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tv   Inside Washington  PBS  September 1, 2013 3:00pm-3:31pm PDT

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>> production assistance for "inside washington" was by albritton communications and "politico," reporting on the legislative, executive, and political arena. captioned by the national captioning institute >> i have no interest and an open-ended conflict in syria, but we have to make sure that one countries break norms on chemical weapons like ones that could threaten us, they are held accountable. >> this week on "inside washington," will the president go it alone on syria? make theclear to british parliament does not want to see military action. i get that and the government will act accordingly. >> the march on washington, 50 years later.
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>> rededicated myself. tracks the fight on minimum wage. >> we have to sacrifice, making sure our kids eat. nfl and former players reach a settlement over brain injuries. >> they knew about it, and he did not tell us. that is like flat out lying to you. ♪ -- the to do about syria british parliament told the prime minister to say out of it. retired marine anthony zinni says you cannot allow yourself to get pregnant. post" ifthe washington you say you are going to repeat
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if unacceptable things happen, you might find the people that keep doing unacceptable things and it will suck you in and there is president obama -- here is president obama. >> we are prepared to work with anyone, the russians and others, to bring the partners and to solve the conflict. >> or with the russians -- how to deal with this, cruise missiles? more questions than answers. calls thezine" president a reluctant warrior. others in the neighborhood, the consensus seems to be he is a week president. on the issue of a syrian challenge, how would you categorize this president, mark? >> alone, lonesome. when -- theo say british member of parliament summed it up when he did not realize prime minister cam and did not realize -- when prime
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minister david cameron did not realize how much the well had been poisoned by the war in iraq on the basis of incomplete evidence and an unexplained mission with its limits. >> a reluctant warrior, or a weak president, colby? >> a resolute president, and the problem is of his own making. he has not rocked the country along, -- brought the country along, nor the congress, and has not shared his feelings about syria with the american people. he said one thing, cross this red line. he said it, the line was crossed. now he says he wants to do ?omething, what do what he signals to the syrians i am going to do something, but not much. clear out, and maybe we will drop it somewhere. fair play, away,
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leave damascus for a while -- what does that mean? as a superpower, what kind of behavior is that? >> as i said, more questions than answers. charles? >> this is under in confidence. -- utter incompetence. regardless how you feel about the red line, the idea that we pimp rink, and advance will have no effect and is why the british -- pin prick, that is why the british do not want to sign on. it carries risks. there is a lot a king can do. the iranians have said they would attack israel, which could set off regional events, a guns of august regional war in the name of what? the idea that he does not have this congress, he has never spoken to america about it, and
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he cannot organize a three- country coalition, utter humiliation. " hearings "politico from the white house on this? >> i do not think the white house is entirely sure on where they are going with this. this is a reluctant warrior president. i also think he is a loner. that is how he operates. he has not established, as charles said smartly in his orumn, reasoning to congress the american people. he said he does not want open- ended conflict. whatever kind of conflict is there? they want a discrete war. what is a discrete war -- he is not established a basis or precedent for doing this. it's another retired green general, never been -- >> another retired marine general said we suddenly the united states has no moral obligation to do the impossible in syria come adding "if americans take
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ownership of this, it will be a full-throated, very, very serious or." -- war." >> that is why it is completely wrong. it is a hornets nest. the only reason we should get involved is if we have a strategic interest, if we think this is the argument that the iranians, hezbollah and syria, which is now a puppet of iran, are a threat to the region. the arabs think so. jordanians,abs, the israelis, and even the egyptians -- everyone in the region. therefore, we can not a victory of that side because it would be intolerable and a standing threat. if you think that, you intervene in a way that stops assad from winning, as he is now, and perhaps tilts the balance the other way. anything less than that with a worthgic objective is not
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doing, and worse than nothing because it incurs tremendous risks. >> just to put a little historical perspective on this, barely 30 years ago, one of the toughest, tough-minded presidents ever to sit in the oval office according to conservative interpretation, ronald reagan was there while 244 american marines were blown up in a beirut terex, and his answer to that was pull out. i think we are talking about some western movie idea of toughness here. the public has no feel for syria. you can blame the president for that. there is no public understanding of what the stakes are. peter hart, who did the "wall street journal/nbc" poll put it that people do not know the players or the history, and the u.s. support for military action is not there. so, it is an uphill struggle.
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the question comes down, and we have to be asking ourselves, do we want to live in a world where the promiscuous use of chemical weapons in warfare is tolerated, condoned and ignored for the first time in a century? >> colby? >> if you go from our criticism of so-called surgical strikes, to the broader and strategic interest that charles talked about, and you take on syria in the way of taking on iran and hezbollah and others, then you are talking about something that gets to the question, do we have the capacity to do that and sustain that kind of thing because there would be a reaction, not just from the iranians. what would happen with the russians? are we prepared to take on the job of regime change in syria, handling the consequences of regime change? dealing with islamist that will
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try to take over that country as well? we will be in this for the long haul. pollrk mentioned the nbc with nearly 80% of americans believing president obama should he seek congressional approval. we will talk about that next. >> i definitely believe there needs to be a vote. we are scheduled to come back in session one week from monday. there is ample work the president can do in consultation with congressional leadership about this until we are back. ofthat of senator tim kane virginia, a former democratic chairman, who says there needs to be a congressional vote on syria before the president takes action. house speaker john boehner wrote a long letter to the president, posing a number of questions -- among them, does the administration have contingency plans should the strikes implicate former -- foreign power interest? "is essential you establish on
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what basis any use of force would be legally justified an hour comports with the exclusive underting -- authority article one of the constitution." does the article require the president to look to congress? >> this is a question on which we have never had a ruling from the court because it is not like to adjudicate between the executive and the legislature. it is a constant fight. we have seen in our lifetimes. the war powers act -- no president has ever accepted it, but almost all of them except obama have lived within the limits. obama ignored in the libya operation. as a matter of priority, a custom you would like to establish, the president ought to go, and whatever you think of the wisdom of the iraqi and afghan wars, or you can not deny is the bush administration got
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authorization and majorities in the congress in old cases, and obama, in libya, -- in both cases, and obama, in libya, completely dismissed the congress, and the parliament in britain -- here, the president has not even made a gesture saying congress has a legitimate role. >> there were consultations thursday night. let me read this one statement. the president does not have power to authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an action or imminent threat to the united states. that was senator barack obama in december, 2007. yes, george w. bush did in fact go to congress. hisissembled and administration lied to the american people about what the threat was. >> in iraq? >> in iraq. we have a secretary of state
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that a mushroom cloud, a vice president that is the veteran of wars convention that there were weapons, they were nuclear, and we were at risk. >> we had a cia had been told the president it was a slamdunk. >> that is right. i think the president should go to the congress and the country. i think john boehner is right, but all i am asking is to remember when untruth is spread out crack -- spread. >> how will it play out? >> nobody has the stomach for this, not the congress, the global community, not the american people. we should entertain the fact that the obama administration is stalling to get russia on board, to get to you when inspectors, and get everybody exercised about it without going in. >> how do you get russia on board, colby? will not get russia on
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board. their interest is with syria. you cannot handle this with a conference call as they did on thursday. you have to have full-blown consultation with them, meaning the leadership, not only the committee chairman, and you might want to seek some sort of authorization. the clinton administration got authorization from the congress for regime change in iraq. a democratic congress gave authorization for regime change. >> to brooks friday morning -- what we are looking at is a wave of sectarian violence across the middle east. you crocker suggested if get involved, we could make matters worse. >> the cross courts are remarkable. that may make -- crosscurrents are remarkable. it may make point. i'm not quite prepared to call colin powell, who was an honorable soldier, commander and high officer in our government, a liar who dissembled to the american people. i am not quite prepared -- that is exactly what you had said.
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>> i said the secretary of defense and the vice president. >> the secretary of state is the one who made the case in the u.s.. i do not believe he was a liar. on the issue of what is happening on the ground, in syria you are getting a vast sunni-shiite war. it is like the spanish civil war -- all of the outsiders are coming in, except there is no one coming in on the side of the people close to iran and the .hiites obama had said after the red line was crossed earlier in the year i will do something, send rebels to the weapons, and not a single rifle has arrived. >> dark, quickly. >> colin powell has said, on the record, there is nothing he ever did for which he feels worse, for which he wants to apologize american people than that statement at the united nations. barack obama was elected to disengage from wars at them --
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in the middle east, not to engage in them. that is the dilemma. charles, in his column, makes reference to the guns of august, a reference to world war i. does anybody get the eerie feeling that this could spiral out of control and we could be in the thick of something that was analogous to what led to world war i? seem to know where we are going with this thing. the president talks about a surgical strike, he talks about not getting into an open-ended commitment, but once you get in, once a superpower gets into a situation like that, it must prevail. if you get a reaction from the syrians or the iranians that suggest that what you have done is of little consequence, they will use the weapons again. what will we do then? extentet into it to the that we have to, that charles has talked about, you will get a response from that section of
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the world, not just the iranians, you will draw in others as well because russian interests will be affected. are we prepared to go down that road. that is the question. >> the u.s. military is stretched to the limit. this sounds like we are thinking about conventional warfare. you would have to retool. >> i think we would be led to that. i do not think it can -- pin prick will do it. >> i think the analogy to the first world war is this -- the problem europe had in the early part of the century is how to appease a rise in germany, and they could not work it and ended up in war. the analogy is to our -- two iran, a radical regime sees itself as being suppressed in its ambitions, and is about to go nuclear. it has a client state in syria. it has has the love that answers to its control. the problem is it is rising --
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has below that answers its control. the problem it is rising and it has no control. if it succeeds, it can be tested to overstep, and that means attacking israel. israel is life and death. if it is attacked, it will go all out, and you could get a chain reaction that you had in august of 1914, which could be completely out of control. that is how the candle would be lit. in "the ignatius washington post" raises the possibility that chemical weapons attack was planned or coordinated with the force of iran's revolutionary guard. >> inconceivable otherwise. >> we are talking about conventional warfare and something else could happen. >> it is not conventional. >> there will be a reaction, but not necessarily on the ground in syria or iran. we have global interests. there will be a response to u.s.
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interests around the world. we are talking about terrorism -- a terrorist response to u.s. interests around the world. we have to be prepared for that. >> have you checked the new york times website lately? it was hacked by the searing electronic army. that's absolutely. let's establish something at the outset -- >> absolute. let's establish something at the limitationsere are to the united states influence, and the arab world, which is now undergoing dramatic changes, over which we have no control or very minimal control. the idea of a prophylactic war or a strike against iran -- i mean, we do not send force. we send young men and women. if we do that, if the same people want to debate that, let's debate that openly, in the congress and in the country. we have to strike against iran
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-- we have to neutralize iran, i do not know how that is going to be done. >> what you all are talking about is a domino effect of escalation, and the question is very important -- do we have the capability to police the world? we are spread very thin. we are coming out of two wars. can we handle this? >> well, we solve that problem. the 50 anniversary of the march on washington. >> we must never, ever give up, never, ever give in, and we must keep the faith, and keep our eyes on the prize. >> that a scotsman john lewis, the only surviving speaker from the the 1963 march on washington, the one speaker on that day the white house was most worried about. >> most worried about, because john lewis, as he candidly said in an interview on "the news hour" had a line in there about how if the civil rights act did not pass and things did not change, the civil rights movement would be like sherman
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marching through the south, through atlanta, which sent a including the white house and the archbishop of washington, boyle, who was going to give the invocation, walter reuther, and they intervened. john has certainly been a national icon and more than that. >> i read this column every saturday morning by a fellow named colby king, and i love the date you, butt to he entered high school in the year of 1954, the year of round versus the board of education. you go to dunbar high school. as you enter high school, white students are staging protest because black kids are going to go to school with them in washington, d.c., the nation's capital. >> a lot happened during that time prior to the march on washington, and i will tell you, talking to people who were here
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last week -- my church opened up and we gave hundreds of bottles of water the people that were going to the march and talked to a lot of people, we have generations of people who have been affected by what happened in ways that will never be undone. that era that we went through, we lived it. we experienced it, and it did not end with a voting rights act or the civil rights act. those scars are still there. the pain is still there. the thing that struck me about this week is there is a base of operation, a base of feelings there, and this is political. i do not know what democrat would ever be able to capture that base other than barack obama. you will never get this level of enthusiasm, i do not think, for any of the people who might be running for president in the democratic party. the republican party has an opportunity. they are blowing it. >> where was the party of
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lincoln up there on the 50th anniversary, charles? >> it was shut out. the only black senator in the senate was not invited because he is a republican. there are a lot of people on the conservative side who were so pathetic. -- sympathetic. >> john boehner was invited. eric cantor was invited but like the idea that you have -- invited. >> the idea that you have 100 senators, and he was not invited. the problem is there is a nostalgia for the heroism. the idea that if we change a law here and there -- at the time, changing a law here and there was the thing to do, civil rights, voting rights, it was a legal issue, segregation, imposed second-class citizenship. today, the voter id law is not what is holding back african- americans. it is the problems in the
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communities, terrible education in family structures, and that is where the focus had to be, but unfortunately it is hard to attack the politically. >> lois, the march on washington was about economic justice as well. fast food workers are out on strike. they won a living wage -- address that please. >> the initial march on washington had 10 points that i found today that are fascinating and a lot of them have been enacted. the one that is outstanding is a living wage. by today's standards, they should be $15 an hour, and to that extent we failed miserably. i think the overarching point of this march is to tell people let's not be complacent. we still have a lot to go. >> 50 years ago, it was also about jobs. today, it is also about jobs. equality,t in coming the gap between black and white wages is tremendous. would you do about it?
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you reform schools, you give these kids a chance. >> absolutely, but in addition to that, for those of us that walked the path, there are artificial areas that still must be taken down. big recognize that, but the problems are in blighted education that will and a age six,hances at stennis in the face,, but because of the teachers union, -- but because -- that are staring us in the face, but because the teachers union, nothing is done. >> phase. >> the unit -- the nfl reaches a settlement. but not have to open up its books, not be examined in a way that could have been very embarrassing. missed christine columnist christine brennan. you do not have to open the
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books. brennan, butistine i have to tell you, this is a sweetheart deal for the nfl, and i think the plaintiff's attorneys have a lot of answering to do. ande are wounds and damages pain that runs deep that will .ever see in a court room i do not think it is fair or just. but they do not have to enact any new changes? enactthey do not have to new changes? >> it is a complete swindle. it is a drop in the bucket for the nfl. makes $3 billion a year. the plaintiff attorneys got a lot of money out of this. didnfl is insulated, and it it by exploiting the fact that these people are hurting and wanted a quick settlement, and it was threatening six or seven years of litigation. >> it also threatens the "frontline" documentary at the
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past. >> absolutely. upn has pulled out. we -- espn has pulled out. we will now have to see if it impacts contract. >> the judge did not have to buy it at iop will not. i am with you, throw it out. >> the story is not complete. >> 2-wood be the first ever to stand up to the nfl. >> -- he would be the first person to stand up to the nfl. >> last word. see you next week. ♪
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from washington, the mclaughlin group, the american original, for over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk. >> issue one, labor pains. much of president obama's focus has been on the middle class and quote/unquote, better bargain. in terms of education, living standards and most notably, jobs. president obama chose an warehouse as his venue. amazon announced it was adding 5,000 new workers to its company. >> should be doing everything we can


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